On the Fly column: The next step is tying your own flies

Scott Spooner
On the Fly
Scott Spooner ties some flies.
Jake Muse

Thinking of taking that next step and tying your own flies? For most, this phase comes later in their fly fishing career, but it’s never too early to start. You would think tying your own would save you a little money, but I’m not too sure about that. The dividends are paid in a real sense of satisfaction and an entomological education.

The best part is that you really start to pay attention to the size, shape and color of your offerings, and why the fish key in on a certain insect, or more specifically, the life cycle stage of that insect. One caution — many people who are starting to tie try to bite off more than they can chew, attempting the most difficult flies before learning the basics, which ultimately leads to frustration on the vise.

We recommend starting with the basics: San Juan Worms, midge larva, brassies and simple streamers. Learning how to throw consistent thread wraps on a hook and how to whip finish without giving it a lot of thought pays off down the road. We also steer folks away from buying a “kit,” and suggest that they simply build up their selection with materials they’ll actually use, versus a bunch of stuff that they won’t.

It doesn’t take much to get started; all you really need is a good pair of scissors, a comfortable chair and table, a basic vise and a few other oddball tools to get going. No one ever forgets the first fish that they caught on a fly they tied themselves. I know I never will. It may have just been a simple San Juan Worm, but my heart leapt out of my chest when that fish was successfully in the net. Be sure to ask your local fly shop how to get started. Tying your own gives you an entirely new perspective on fly fishing.

This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374 or

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